Any cook who is in the business because they really love cooking will tell you that their favorite kitchen is the one in their home. We love the comfort, the relaxed pace, the control over the menu. Holiday feasts are perfect opportunities to apply (show off?) our technique; they give us an excuse to make as many dishes as we want, with as much fat and salt and expensive ingredients as we want (it's a special occasion!), and force it on a bunch of people who might even consent to doing the dishes later! I was talking to another cook the other day about how much we enjoy cooking big holiday feasts at home. His wife, a good cook herself, always rushes about trying to get food on the table so the meal can start, just like we have to do at work. For me, and I'll bet for many others, it is the cooking itself that is the real event, the great challenge and celebration, while the meal itself (and for my family, its attendant hours of sitting and chatting) is the denouement. I didn't cook a big Christmas feast this year - I was at work, unsurprisingly. I did, however, take charge of dinner on the 26th. I only made a few dishes, but it was still one of the most enjoyable parts of my short, happy stay with my family. Forget the music, the gifts, the lights, not to mention the Christ part of Christmas, and give me instead a few hours (or a few days) in the kitchen, doing what I do every day anyway, but loving it much more.
Dad and John with Pan-Roasted Chicken with Dijon-Sage Sauce, Roasted Garlic Mashed Yukons, and Asparagus and Broccolini in Brown Butter, Walnuts